A Muslim teenager identified by relatives as Nabra Hassanen, 17, was murdered as she left prayers for the holy month of Ramadan early Sunday morning. A Virginia man who confronted Hassanen and her friends near a mosque in Sterling was arrested after the teen was later found dead in a pond.
Khadijah Abdullah-Lardas, who attends the same mosque as Hassanen, started a LaunchGood campaign to raise money to support the teen’s family ask they struggle to make sense of the teen’s sudden, brutal death on Sunday.
“Please pray for me, please pray for me,” Hassanen’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, said, sobbing from her Reston apartment Sunday night, The Washington Post reported. Speaking to relatives over the phone, Gazzar said, “Pray for me that I can handle this . . . I lost my daughter, my first reason for happiness.”
As of Monday afternoon the fund was quickly approaching its $200,000 goal.
Hassanen was walking with friends near the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center at roughly 4 a.m. Sunday after Ramadan prayers when they got into a dispute with a man who drove past in a car.
The teen’s friends told authorities that the driver then exited his car brandishing a baseball bat. The teens scattered when the man allegedly attacked Hassanen. The friends regrouped at the religious center shortly after, and mosque officials contacted police.
Remains believed to be the missing teen’s were discovered on Sunday afternoon in a pond about two miles from the mosque, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. An autopsy will confirm identity and cause of death.
Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday. He is being held in Fairfax County jail, officials said.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” the ADAMS Center said in a statement. “We call on law enforcement to investigate and determine the motive of this crime and prosecute to the full extent of the law.”
On Monday, Fairfax County police posted a message on Twitter saying they were not investigating the case as a hate crime.
Hassanen’s murder struck close to home for many Muslim Americans, who are celebrating the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.
“She was a baby,” Abdullah-Lardas told The Atlantic. “She could have been any of our children. It affects us deeply.”
Podcaster Makkah Ali wrote a thread on Twitter describing her own experiences of feeling targeted as a Muslim woman and the fear many are feeling in the wake of Hassanen’s attack.
“Last Friday, I also stood all night in prayer and walked with friends to a nearby diner at 2am for a pre-dawn meal,” she wrote. “Nabra is me.”
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